'News deserts' are threatening the trade: Newman

By Alyson Fixter

Large areas of the country face being turned into “news deserts” if supermarkets gain control of the press supply chain.

That was the claim at a House of Commons debate this week.

The
Office of Fair Trading looks set to recommend a relaxation of the
current laws on magazine and newspaper distribution, which many fear
would allow supermarkets to increase their market share at the expense
of smaller outlets.

At a debate sponsored by the Periodical
Publishers Association, Mike Newman, circulation director for
Associated Newspapers, asked: “Where are the greengrocers, where are
the butchers, where are the bakers?

“Soon we’ll be asking: where are the newsagents?”

Newman
admitted that there were flaws in the existing supply chain, but added:
“You don’t chop off your arm because you have a sore finger.”

Newman
was proposing the motion: “The biggest threat to press diversity is the
British supermarket” at a meeting of a House of Commons debating group
held in the Grand Committee Room and chaired by Labour MP Austin
Mitchell.

The initial address in support of the motion came from
Ian Reeves, editor of Press Gazette, who said the UK had some of the
best press diversity in the world, but this was in jeopardy as a result
of the OFT ruling.

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